Tag Dimitar Berbatov

Tag Dimitar Berbatov

Berba: give me just a little more time

April 17, 2010 Tags: Shorts No comments

… and our love will surely grow? That’s Dimitar Berbatov’s plea today with the Bulgarian striker admitting Manchester United hasn’t seen the best of him. Berbatov, who has scored 12 goals in 39 games this season, is consistently overlooked by Sir Alex Ferguson in the biggest matches, having started just 26 games.

“People have not seen the real Berbatov this season and I would have liked to have done more for the club,” he told The Sun.

“At Spurs I have scored more goals with less problems and at United it has been more difficult, but I do not worry about the critics.

“In football it is harder to be a forward because people analyse errors more than success. My morale is high and I am always trying to overcome the situation.

“My dream is still to triumph with United and win another league title.”

Berbatov joined United for more than £30 million two years ago, although the Bulgarian is now probably on the market for anything above £15 million with the club amortising players’ values over the length of their contracts.

What now for Carrick and Berbatov?

April 9, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 10 comments

Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick shared more than a common heritage at Tottenham Hotspur. The fabulously talent pair – Rolls Royce players in a Park Lane showroom – are each under an uncomfortable spotlight. With Manchester United investing £48 million in the pair, Sir Alex Ferguson is right to ask some searching questions of their value.

Carrick’s role in United’s Premier League title wins 2007-2009 is too quickly underestimated. The former West Ham United player’s ability to retain possession while quickly circulating the ball enabled Ferguson’s side to recapture some of the dynamism missing in the previous three seasons.

An unfussy player, the Geordie has long been accused – often unfairly – of failing to influence the biggest games. The rich man’s water-carrier, Carrick’s make-up has never stretched to include the type of dynamic midfield leadership performed so successfully by his predecessor in the number 16 shirt, Roy Keane.

Most supporters – not all – appreciate the distinction, although there is a long-standing suspicion of former Spurs players at Old Trafford. The generalisation that White Hart Lane acquisitions are technically good but struggle to translate their skills on the bigger stage holds common currency.

However, Ferguson’s faith in the midfielder remained undiminished until the early part of this campaign, with Carrick omitted from early season matches.

More to the point, in recent months the £18 million player’s form has waned. In particular, Carrick’s passing – surely his raison d’être in the United side – has lost both penetration and accuracy. The Rolls Royce is more than a little tarnished.

Indeed, United’s ability to retain possession is inextricably linked with poor results in recent matches. Carrick, woeful in Germany against Bayern Munich, warmed only the bench in United’s defeat to Chelsea at Old Trafford last weekend.

Perhaps surprisingly, the scapegoat returned for United’s return fixture against Bayern on Wednesday. Ferguson may live to regret that decision with the Geordie at fault for the Germans opening goal.

Berbatov’s problem is different, with the £30 million striker’s critics sharpening their knives the day he entered Old Trafford nearly two years ago.

While the Bulgarian’s 14 goals in 43 appearances marked an average return for the player in his first season at the club many view Berbatov’s contribution as waning still further this season.

Berbatov’s 12 goals in 37 games this season has included just 25 starts over the course of a long campaign. Indeed, Ferguson’s use of Wayne Rooney as the lone striker in those fixtures he regards as ‘category A’ is now set in stone.

Yet Ferguson denies losing faith in the player who is now little more than an expensive, if wonderfully talented, substitute. The manager’s failure to turn to Berbatov Wednesday left the side without a recognised striker for much of the second half.

“Yes, I still trust him,” said Ferguson today, although the suspicion remains that the Scot cannot bring himself to admit a failed acquisition.

“He is a good player and there is absolutely no reason why we should doubt that. Dimitar he has done well in a lot of games recently but we prefer to play with one striker.

“When we got the man sent off on Wednesday there was no need to bring a striker on because all we were trying to do was go over the line in terms of defending.”

There’s the rub. Although Berbatov’s talent lies undiminished his value to the side reduces by the week. With Ferguson’s devotion to the lone-striker system fixed, the Bulgarian has little opportunity to turn around the doubters.

Could the Bulgarian move on this summer? Two years remain on the player’s contract and United’s typical amortisation of asset values means the club will take between £10 – £15 million from any potential suitors.

Although with transfer funds seemingly highly restricted there is no guarantee that the manager will receive any money from player sales.

However, there is little doubt with Rooney, Michael Owen, Federico Macheda, Danny Wellbeck, Mame Biram Diouf and now Javier Hernández on the books that seven into one simply doesn’t fit.

Berbatov may well come out on the negative side of that equation, with a move away from the club this summer.

Carrick needs five good performances between now and the end of May to convince his many critics that his future is not similar.

Keano’s Column: United’s Agony Aunt

April 4, 2010 Tags: , Just for fun 8 comments

Dear Keano,

Berba here. I am writing to you because I am fed up with carrying the team on my own. All season long I have created exquisite flicks and sublime control and it is proving to be a total waste of my time. Why, because those water carriers around me are simply not good enough to wear the same shirt as me.

How frustrated do you think I feel when none of my team mates is on my wavelength? They get in my way when I’m out of position and fail to read my elaborate passes when the whole point is to confuse the opposition!

Keano, You are the only one who understands what it feels like to be surrounded by inferior players. How do I deal with these frustrations without sinking to their level?

Dimitar Berbatov

Dear Berba,

Thank you for sharing your frustrations – some might say delusions – with the rest of us, on this most sensitive post-defeat Sunday of the season. Now, allow me to reply and share some of my opinions, which I suspect are similar to the rest footballing world’s.

I admit that there are those out there who see you as the re-incarnation of Eric Cantona; pure  football that lights up games and leaves connoisseurs of beauty purring.

Then there are the people outside your direct family who think you’re a footballing twat.

Given every chance, given a chant, given the ultimate stage on which to perform and you’ve blown it like a cheap street walker on New Year’s Eve.

You need to understand that you are the single biggest frustration that most Manchester United fans feel. Including me. Greater than Owen Hargreaves’ comebacks, than the Glazer debt and, hell, even greater than Nani’s decision making process.

Berba, you are more frustrating than a beautiful Cork city nun.

You are a striker, and yet you rarely strike. You are a centre forward, yet you rarely play in the box. You are a tall man with a big head, yet you rarely score headers. Hell you rarely score, and with that you rarely run, tackle or throw yourself at diving headers.
Granted you can pluck a ball out of the sky like a ballerina and flick the ball backwards like a circus seal but so feckin’ what?

If that’s your thing, then piss off back to ‘as long as we play beautiful football, it doesn’t matter that we win nuffin’ unless the year ends in one’ Tottenham Hotspur.

At United, it’s about winning, and you my sensitive European type are not going to win Bulgarian Substitute of the Year if things continue thise way.

Bayern awaits. So do we. The pressure is most definitely on. Fail us again and Triggs and I will be passing by yours very very soon.

Remember Berba, in Alderley Edge, no one can hear you scream.

Picture special: In Berba we trust

April 3, 2010 Tags: Just for fun 3 comments

With Wayne Rooney injured for at least the next fortnight the focus is on Dimitar Berbatov to fire United to Premier League and European glory. Always a favourite here at Rant, Berbatov not only has the class but he takes a mean picture too. Here are some of our favourites….

Berbatov, the star!

Berbatov with discreet ex-KGB team

Relaxing

Warming the bench!

Olympic trialist

Havin' a fag!

On the groundstaff

Resting

Looking good

Scoring goals

W@nker of the Week: Simon Mullcock

March 20, 2010 Tags: , , Just for fun 1 comment

This week’s prize goes to the Mirror’s Simon Mullcock for an unnecessary and, frankly, ill-timed attack on Dimitar Berbatov. Just as the Bulgarian has hit top form for Manchester United over the past month, Mullcock’s lazy cliché-ridden diatribe serves only one purpose – to drive traffic to the Mirror’s turgid website.

Unassuming Berbatov, known as shy, intelligent and of fragile confidence to those with even a modicum of football knowledge, is essentially accused of being an “arrogant flop” by Mullcock. The Mirror hack – for the term journalist is an insult to the profession – facsimiles any number of tabloid ‘opinion’ pieces on the striker from his past two years in Manchester.

Quoting an unnamed source from, you guessed it, an unnamed Bulgaria media outlet, Mullcock claims that the prevailing opinion on Berbatov extends from England to Bulgaria, where the striker is the country’s all-time record goalscorer.

Shame then that Mullock is unable to recognise the irony in quoting Berbatov’s official website, which under the banner “haters” ridicules a media onslaught, derived as it is from jealousy of the Bulgarian’s success.

But let us leave the final word to the Manchester United forward, who – paraphrasing Mark Twain – warns readers to “beware people who downplay your achievements.”

Small people always do, says Twain.

Sadly, Berbatov’s time is nigh

February 22, 2010 Tags: Opinion 23 comments

Dimitar Berbatov’s smart turn and shot for his ninth goal of the season against Everton on Saturday marked a welcome return for the Bulgarian. The striker’s sublime control and instant finish was a timely indication of the player’s class. But United’s defeat served only to remind the forward that he is now permanently relegated to an understudy role.

The question now for Sir Alex Ferguson is whether United really needs a £30 million striker warming the bench come August?

In many ways Ferguson answered the question this weekend. Although the Scot picked Berbatov to start along Wayne Rooney at Goodison Park, the forward again found himself among the substitutes for recent matches against Manchester City, Arsenal and AC Milan.

It’s really not good enough for a player who cost United an eye-watering transfer fee 18 months ago. But Berbatov’s challenge is far greater than producing better performances on the pitch – he no longer figures in Ferguson’s tactical thinking.

“It’s hard [to include him] when we decide to play three central midfield players,” said Ferguson pointedly this week.

“That’s the difficulty for him. We could have played him in Milan but the threesome of Scholes, Carrick and Fletcher have created a consistency, a level of performance that makes it difficult to change, particularly in those kind of matches.

“Every time I have spoken to him [Berbatov] he understands what we are doing.”

It’s unsurprising though. Ferguson, wary of being caught light in midfield, normally sacrifices a forward for an extra central player in the toughest of games. In recent years the manager has tended towards a flexible front-three, with the Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez triumvirate the most successful version of this system.

Berbatov, entitled to feel hard done by after the manager’s pre-season promise to deploy the Bulgarian international record goalscorer higher up the pitch, rarely plays in his natural striking role for the club. It’s a promise that the Scot has broken with few apologies.

Fans too, wary of an over-cautious approach, are reluctant to accept that United’s default tactical system is to deploy a lone striker. Indeed, United now deploys two wingers in support of Rooney in a more regimented system than in the past, even if the side’s goalscoring has improved on last season.

Berbatov’s reality means it is hard to envision a scenario where the former-Tottenham Hotspur striker gains a place in the team for biggest matches. Should United make the Champions League final in Madrid come May Rooney, injury permitting, will line up as the side’s sole striker.

Surely neither manager nor player is happy with Berbatov’s place as little more than a squad player at United? Moreover, if Ferguson’s long-term choice is to continue with a lone-striker then the Bulgarian will never be it. The player’s tendency to slow down the game is in marked contrast to the effervescent style of Rooney – and that of Ronaldo and Tevez before him.

The is not the first time a wonderfully talented player has failed to fully translate skill into performances for the club. When Juan Sebastian Veron joined in a £28 million deal in 2001, Ferguson asked the Argentinian to break up the greatest midfield quartet United has ever possessed.

Veron failed and left the club after just 51 Premier League matches. Berbatov has played just over 50, and it will perhaps be a surprise if he adds many more to that total.

Berbatov meets Rooney in Euro draw

February 7, 2010 Tags: , , Shorts 1 comment

Dimitar Berbatov will face Wayne Rooney, new England captain Rio Ferdinand and the rest Manchester United’s home contingent after the Euro 2012 draw in Warsaw today. England face Bulgaria, Wales, Switzerland and Montenegro in qualifying for the tournament, which takes place in Ukraine and Poland June 2012.

England start favourites in Euro Group G as one of only two qualifiers for this summer’s World Cup in South Africa, with the first matches due to take place in September.

“I think the worst groups were group A and group G and we got group G. It’s a tough group because each game will be strong games to play.

“Wales are one of the best teams now, although they are very young. Switzerland have qualified for the World Cup and are one of the best teams at the moment.”

Sadly Ryan Giggs, who retired from international football in 2007, will not play in the fixtures.

Draw

Group A— Germany, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan

Group B— Russia, Slovakia, Ireland, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra

Group C— Italy, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Faeroe Islands

Group D— France, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg

Group E— Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova, San Marino

Group F— Croatia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia, Malta

Group G— England, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales, Montenegro

Group H— Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Iceland

Group I— Spain, Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania, Liechtenstein

Three players holding United back

January 4, 2010 Tags: , , Opinion 62 comments

While a knee-jerk reaction in the aftermath of yet another defeat for Manchester United – an eighth this season – benefits nobody, some players have underperformed this season. This much is glaringly clear to the Old Trafford faithful. Defeat to Leeds United serves to highlight the problem, with three players in particular failing to do the shirt justice.

Despite Darron Gibson’s goal tally this season and threat from long-range – something desperately required in the current side – the Irishman has become a luxury United cannot afford right now. The Derry-born midfielder’s overall game simply lacks the basic features expected of any United player.

In recent fixtures Gibson has been United’s worst performer, with no better example than the team’s 3-0 defeat away to Fulham recently. At 22 there is time for the Lampard-esque player to improve but if Fulham’s Jonathan Greening, ditched by Sir Alex Ferguson at a similar age, wasn’t good enough for the boss, then Gibson certainly isn’t either.

Dimitar Berbatov’s transformation from one of the Premier League’s finest strikers at Tottenham Hotspur, to an under-performing waste of space mystifies many United fans. The £30 million Bulgarian’s talent is obvious, yet he offers the team so little. At international level Berbatov is a record-breaking goalscorer. It’s a feat he looks far from matching at Old Trafford.

From day one in Manchester, Berbatov conjured memories of the King, Eric Cantona. But just five goals in 23 matches this campaign says it all; Berbatov is no Cantona. Instead, United is desperate for the goalscoring central striker that the team has lacked since Louis Saha’s departure.

Michael Owen is now billed as as an ‘impact’ substitute since his free summer transfer to Old Trafford. Yet, when United is down – a common occurrence this season – Owen adds so very little to the picture from the bench. True, there are few better finishers than Owen from the six yard line but if a malfunctioning team fails to create the simplest of chances for the striker, the player adds little to Ferguson’s squad. Much as it is painful to say, perhaps United is missing in-form Carlos Tevez after all.

Despite the problems the trio’s malaise might not be terminal. Within the current squad there are constant reminders of players who have struggled, only to blossom later in their United careers. Take for example Darren Fletcher, transformed from a the much derided midfielder dubbed ‘The Scottish Player’, to one of the first names on the team sheet.

Then there is Patrice Evra, who endured a nightmare start to his Old Trafford career, but is now both a fans’ favourite and one of the few United players to emerge unscathed this season.

Gibson, Berbatov and Owen may well come good and prove central to United’s cause this season. For the time being the trio sum up the malaise within the club at the moment. The club faces a crucial couple of months in the Premier League, Carling Cup and Champions League. Can the underperforming players up their game?

We’re in a great position – Berbatov

December 29, 2009 Tags: Shorts No comments

Dimitar Berbatov insists that Manchester United is in a strong position to take a fourth Premier League title in a row. The Bulgarian, who scored his fifth goal of the season in United’s 3-1 victory over Hull City on Sunday, says that the end of the team’s injury crisis marks the start of a winning run that leads to title glory in May.

“I think that we are in a great position,” said Berbatov, who was recently named Bulgarian Player of the Year.

“There are still a lot of games to go and it will be difficult. I think it will be decided between us and Chelsea but in the end I think we’ll end up on top.

“We have great players so let’s see what happens. There are a lot of games at this time of year but if you win every one we have a great chance.

“It was an important win for us [against Hull]. We’ve had a difficult time with injuries, but we still have a great squad and players are starting to come back and we will go on a winning run now.

“The boss knows what to do in terms of changing things when he needs to and I’m sure we’ll finish on top at the end of the season.”

United start the match against Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford on Tuesday night five points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, with a game in hand on the Londoners. Chelsea will also lose Didier Drogba, Salamon Kalou and John Obi Mikel to the African Cup of Nations during January and February 2010.

Dimitar Berbatov’s seven habits of highly successful people like me: #7 Spreading Yourself

December 25, 2009 Tags: Just for fun 7 comments

Hello fans

It’s that special time again, the period I look forward to a lot, the most magical time of the year for me and all those who love me.

No I am not talking about Jesus’ birthday party, but a much more significant event.

Yes fans, it’s the personal awards season again, the time when true recognition is given to me and all the other successful people who have helped shape the modern world.

This year has especially been great. I must thank the great people of earth, for voting me Bulgarian Man of the Year. A truly global award, second only to being BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

I have been receiving awards regularly throughout my life. This has not only helped me overcome my natural shyness, but has also helped me reach out and touch many people I would have otherwise ignored.

Berbatov Receiving One of Many Awards

Berbatov Receiving One of Many Awards

So what better way to end this journey I have taken you on (for no cost), than by sharing with you my final piece of life advice. No it’s not the habit of accumulating awards, but something altogether more all embracing.

My final habit of successful people like me is habit #7: Spreading Yourself (for the ones who love you).

Berbatov Spreading Himself to Fans

Berbatov Spreading Himself to Fans

I always think back to my childhood cartoon hero Captain Communist, whose catchphrase was “Give it back to the people or the secret police will come and get you.” It is catchier in Bulgarian.

His wise words taught me from a young age that becoming more successful than most people, allows you to touch others in ways being normal can’t allow you to do.

Spreading yourself onto others is both a duty and a privilege of success; it is the direct result of all the great habits I have taught you to practice over this series.

From fans, to team mates, to lonely people, spreading yourself brings joy to all those around you. It is not complicated but very rewarding. It can take many shapes and forms and can be done at anytime and anywhere. Beware though, it can also be very time consuming, especially if you want to be an all round spreader like me.

Berbatov Spreading Yourself IBerbatov Spreading Yourself IVBerbatov Spreading Yourself VI

So during this period of giving, you must take example from me, from Jesus, and even from the Manchester United defensive crisis, and let people in. Sharing success with those who have none is the noblest act a successful person can do.

With those wise words, I must go now. It has been a pleasure teaching you how to be more like me and live more successfully.

Believe in yourselves fans and in your hour of need, feel free to look at me for the inspiration that will guide you from the darkness to the light.

There is one small thing I ask in return. I think it is time you updated the famous song you all love to sing at Christmas, and here are the changes I think would work really well:

“….On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven Berbatovs… and a Dimitar Berbatov!”

Good bye